Getting healthy on a shoestring budget

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American comedian Joey Adams once said, “If there wasn’t so much of a gap between the fridge and the T.V, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.” When it comes to students and fitness it’s sometimes the same, a minimal amount of effort, like lifting a pint, doesn’t really count. But with all of us being on the student budget, how can we physically afford the fancy gym membership and the organic vegetables we need to lead to perfect health? Never fear, as help is as always at hand.

In terms of exercise, a gym membership per term can cost anywhere up to £60. If I could find it down the back of a sofa, I’d be there like a shot. However, there are so many free alternatives that you can do without even leaving campus. Since the fitness trail was built around campus there are facilities specifically designed for runners and walkers to use, even a lap of the colleges, from Alexandra Park to the top of County, is quite a distance to walk or admirably run. Alternatively, if you don’t want to leave your room, why not stick on your favourite song to get you moving and dance like no one’s watching. Exercise like this doesn’t seem as strenuous as dragging yourself to the gym, plus you aren’t shelling out the cash for the privilege which is even better. As for gym clothing, I really don’t care how the fabric breathes or reacts to my movements, give me leggings, a long t-shirt and my converse instead. I’d rather be comfy than in some spandex for the occasion and I don’t need fancy fabric to tell me I’m sweaty thank you very much.

The part of being healthy that almost always fails for a student is food choices. Since when did vegetables get so expensive? Try getting your greens from Spar or the Farmers Market on campus and just get what you need when it’s fresh. This saves you trailing all the way to town and paying slightly more at Sainsbury’s. There is a lot to be said for local produce, in particular the weekly Farmers Market on campus. While ready meals can be quick and ultimately all you fancy cooking after a day of lectures, they often aren’t as varied and healthy as they may seem, containing high saturated fats and salt levels which are particularly bad for your heart. If you add up how much you pay for ready meals compared to how much you would pay for fresh vegetables, meat and fish, the ready meals outweigh the fresh produce in terms of cost. You’ll find you can make more meals from buying separate ingredients than individual ready prepared packaged food just remember to buy fresh and freeze it.

So who really needs a gym membership burning a hole in your pocket when you can take in the great outdoors of Lancaster? Why pay for vegetables in town when freshly grown produce is right on campus? Ultimately, the myths about getting fit and healthy costing a fortune can be completely busted. Explore all your options; you might even burn a few calories and get healthier by just having a think about it.

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